Misplaced Priority: Nigeria to bar unvaccinated government workers from offices
The Nigerian government has said it will ban civil servants who have not received vaccination against Covid-19 from office. The plan which will effectively make the COVID-19 jabs compulsory for government workers will take effect from December. Revealing the decision, which had been under consideration for several months, the Chairman of the Presidential Steering Committee on Covid-19 Boss Mustapha added that the government would allow employees to offices if they can prove a negative result of a Covid test done within 72 hours. It is not clear what the faith of visitors to government offices will be, as the government did not mention that in its briefing. Only a meagre 1% of Nigeria’s 200 million population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The so-called Giant of Africa does not have enough vaccines to administer to the citizens. Worse still, the government of Nigeria carries out minimal Coronavirus tests to determine the COVID-19 status of the subjects. Even those who test positive for the virus are often left with no hospital beds nor much-needed ventilators to fight the aggressive virus attack. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, all these unfavourable conditions in Nigeria have made many criticize the government decision to ban unvaccinated employees from office at this stage. Under normal circumstances, the ban would have been a welcome decision if Nigeria had taken necessary steps to counter the spread of COVID-19 and a more significant percentage of the population vaccinated. That is not the case with Nigeria. Although there are limited vaccine doses available, a more significant percentage of Nigerians are hesitant to take the jabs due to many irresponsible conspiracy theories and rampant corruption amongst government officials, which creates distrust of the vaccines. With just 1% of the population vaccinated, the government of Nigeria has much work to do before it starts banning unvaccinated employees from offices. The government must, first of all, make the vaccine doses, testing kits, ventilators and hospital beds available in every part of Nigeria before embarking on a ban on unvaccinated government workers. Life is about give-and-take; you do not demand what you did not provide. Nigeria has recently received doses of the COVID-19 vaccine through the Covax facility, and the government in Abuja has intensified its vaccination campaign. Hopefully, those and other necessary measures will encourage Nigerians to take the jabs. Only after taking those crucial steps will the recent ban of unvaccinated government workers from offices be meaningful – rather than a misplaced priority.